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Quips, queries, and querulous quibbles from the quirky mind of Don Kahle

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Rainy Political Parades

October 22nd, 2018 by dk
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I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but if there’s one thing we know about in Oregon, it’s rainy parades. They don’t have to be terrible, so long as you’re properly prepared.

Political punditry has relished the historical precedent of any new President’s first Congressional election after taking office. It’s always a bloodbath for the President’s party, and it’s been getting worse as everything has gotten more polarized. Like all the worst misstatements, this one is partly true.

New Democratic presidents taking a shellacking in that first election, but Republicans have been mostly shielded from it. If it’s a referendum on the current presidency, the electorate has been judging Democrats far more harshly that Republicans.

Jimmy Carter lost 17 Congressional seats in 1978. Bill Clinton lost 63 in 1994. Barack Obama lost 69 in 2010. We even have memorable names for the last two uprisings: Newt Gingrich’s Contract With America, and the Tea Party Revolt.

Republicans faced no equivalent bloodbaths. Ronald Reagan lost only two seats in 1982. George H.W. Bush lost nine in 1990. George W. Bush, thanks to the 9/11 attacks, gained nine in 2002. Half the time, the wave has been barely a trickle or less.

Why the “referendum effect” afflicts Democratic presidents more harshly than Republican presidents is just one question we could be analyzing if the broader assumption stopped going unchecked. I suspect that Democrats have a tendency to govern, which upsets some who don’t like the choices that are made, while Republicans don’t do enough actual governing to upset either side.

The next assumption that should be exposed as dubious is that close races have an even chance of breaking in either direction. Again, a closer examination shows that Republicans more often win the nail-biters. In fact, Republicans seem to prefer a close race, because it means they didn’t waste money to secure more votes than necessary.

When it’s money versus manpower, we know which can be reallocated more quickly. (And if the alliterative “manpower” upsets you, that points to another problem entirely.)

Let’s look at another asymmetrical trope: “energizing the base.” Both ends of the political spectrum — and we are talking about the extremes at either end — succeed on this, but with wildly different results. Do I have to tell you which side’s results are more effectual?

When the left gets energized, they hit the streets. They march, they knock on doors, they get active. Trouble is, it’s very difficult to keep all this energy focused in a single direction. It’s so easy for somebody to insist that “personpower” is more important that alliteration. Just like that.

The political right asks for much less from its adherents: write a check or return a ballot. Moreover, their efforts can be focused on just one day a year. When the motivating energy is based on fear or anger, you can keep the resolve focused only very briefly.

This is (one reason) why liberals love vote by mail and conservatives love long lines at the polling sites. Anything that makes people angry just before they vote will favor the side that plays to that anger.

A desire for hope and change may last longer, but it’s not as brutally effective on Election Day as our baser instincts. It doesn’t take much to offer a disillusioned activist something much easier — a lifetime of bitter resentment or docile apathy. If the system doesn’t work, either outcome will suffice.

Finally, don’t discount the possibility of some dramatic move that incites patriotism at the very last minute. Will the military be sent to the Mexican border a day before the election? Will Iran rattle some sabers? Will Russia end our decades or disarmament?

None of these frightening scenarios can be discounted at this point. Republicans — and this president, in particular — don’t distract themselves with what will be necessary the day after an election. That’s what losers do, or those who have a desire to govern.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com.

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Here’s to Our Horizontal Heroes

October 19th, 2018 by dk
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We have among us some heroes who you may not recognize. They haven’t accomplished extraordinary things. Rather, they have taken their work to extraordinary lengths. They found what they do best. And they just kept on doing it. I think of them as horizontal heroes.

Minalee Saks and two others started Birth to Three 40 years ago. The organization has grown and adapted, but its mission has never wavered. It equips and connects young parents. Many of those young parents are now grandparents, but their monthly potlucks have continued.

Saks continues to carry the flame for the organization, renamed Parenting Now! It takes a measure of courage to honor the original vision, while also responding faithfully to changes the culture demands.

Parenting has changed a lot since 1978, and it hasn’t changed at all. Saks embraces and embodies both truths. Culture — especially locally — benefits from that complexity.

The same year Saks started connecting parents, Jacqui Willey bought a restaurant. If you’ve never had breakfast at the Glenwood, you’re not yet a true resident. Willey’s restaurants win awards from patrons and food critics, but don’t be distracted by the accolades — because she isn’t.

She shows up for work every day. She still books most large parties herself. She tests new recipes. Many regular patrons know her by sight — she’s on the floor that often. She has remodeled each of her locations multiple times. She’s pioneered take-out alternatives to get families through busy weeks on a budget.

She has adapted to modern demands, without losing sight of her original intent to feed people. Her consistency gives her customers comforts they often don’t know they need. It takes courage to sort necessary changes from passing trends. There wasn’t much demand for a tofu scramble in 1978.

Willey may not do this better than others, but she’s done it longer. Running a restaurant for forty years deserves recognition.

Whenever somebody just keeps going, it’s hard to imagine they’ll ever stop. Expressing our gratitude for their consistency too often waits for a funeral. Chez Ray Sewell’s friends decided to disrupt that habit. They invited Sewell to a “pre-wake” in his honor last weekend at the W.O.W. Hall.

Eulogies were given. Music was played. It had everything you’d expect, except the sadness and the casket. Sewell was seated — not yet horizontal, but already a hero. He enjoyed the show, along with everyone else.

Sewell has fed musicians and vaudeville performers backstage for decades. He toured with the Grateful Dead, ensuring that none of the Grateful went unfed. He has lived at the intersection of cooking and performing. Plans are already underway for Chez Ray’s second annual pre-wake.

Sewell has always been a showman, but the show won’t always go on. You know about horizontal heroes that I don’t. They don’t usually call attention to themselves. We should do that for them. Horizontal heroes give society its stalwart stability. We should thank them for doing the usual so unusually.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com. Kahle owns a small advertising agency. The Glenwood has been one of his clients.

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Superman Never Had Sandy’s Sly Smile

October 19th, 2018 by dk
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The 1960s version of me took it in the not-yet-shaved chin this week. The retailer who shaped my suburban upbringing gave up the ghost. So did a favorite daytime television character who had only recently become a Springfield neighbor.

Sears announced this week it would be closing its remaining stores and was declaring bankruptcy. Likening the Sears catalog to Amazon today is an apt comparison, except that today we expect everything to be available whenever we want it. Back in the 1960s, it was considered miraculous.

How many Halloween costumes from your childhood do you remember? I have only one such memory. I wanted to be Superman. My mother promised me I could be Superman. She must have figured it wouldn’t be a difficult promise to keep. Superman was a popular TV show at the time.

We went to every store we could think of, but nobody had the costume. I suggested Sears, singing the advertising jingle in my grade-school voice, “Sears … has everything!” They did. The day was saved, miraculously. I had a polyester Superman outfit, complete with cape.

Ten years earlier or 40 years later, and I might have insisted on having blue hair. Black-and-white television kept certain things simpler. Color television was reserved for the rich. Television manufacturers used the phrase “in living color” to convey exactly this difference. For those of modest means, there was only one way to have that technicolor experience. You had to be there.

Bozo’s Circus was televised live every weekday at noon on WGN-TV. Every kid in Chicagoland dreamed of someday being in the audience for this show. The waiting list for tickets approached ten years, making the dream for most of kids untenable. (Sorry, but the show was filled with jokes at least that bad.)

Some parents were smart enough to order free tickets as soon as their children were born, but most were not that forward-thinking. Others resorted to graft, including my father. He was a salesman downtown. I never learned how he scored tickets, but he did so more than once.

I was forced to sit “on the crack” between two sets of bleachers during my first visit to the show. That made quite an impression on me. By my third visit, I knew the routine and got myself picked for the show’s carnival-style game. I lost.

Bob Bell, a.k.a. Bozo the Clown, was the star of the show — always bigger than life. (I peeked around a corner and saw him smoking a cigarette once. It nearly destroyed me.) His sidekick was the modest and mute Sandy. Shy children identified with the show’s second banana — myself included.

So I was shocked this week to read Don Sandburg’s obituary in The Register-Guard. Had his family not included a photo of his television character, I would never have learned that he retired near family in Springfield in 2000.

I can still strike that shy, sly smile that I learned from Sandy more than 50 years ago. I’ve gotten more use from that grin than I ever got from that itchy Superman outfit.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com.

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How to Guarantee Eugene’s Town Square Success

October 12th, 2018 by dk
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Eugene’s proposed Town Square is a good idea. It could be a great idea, with one addition. Now that Judge Richard Barron has cleared the way for a land swap between the city of Eugene and Lane County, we’re headed in a direction that affirms our predecessors’ vision from 60, 100, and 160 years ago.

Eugene and Mary Skinner conceived of their 40-acre donation to become the hub of the city they founded. They could not have imagined how populous the city or county would become. When Eugene Skinner died in 1864, the population of the entire new state of Oregon was barely more than 50,000 people.

Forty acres would certainly suffice for central services of Eugene and Lane County, the Skinners must have supposed. They couldn’t have envisioned the size of government today — or how separated it has become from the daily business of its citizenry.

Lane County’s first Farmers Market set up on this parcel over a century ago. It was not deemed incompatible with the Skinners’ original intent. The donated land should be reserved for the well being of county employees — but workers have to eat, don’t they?

Buying and selling local produce may not seem essential to us, but we should tread carefully. In just a few years, we may look silly for having set aside the same acreage so county workers could park their cars.

The details of our needs change over time, so we must always return to the intent of the gift and the vision of its donors. If Eugene and Lane County have a central hub, it belongs on 8th Avenue and should include the Park Blocks.

A group of civic-minded architects proposed an ambitious plan for the area in the Eugene Register-Guard on Dec. 5, 1954. Two quotes will give you a flavor of the four-page insert:

  • “The plan is an opportunity for governments to work together in establishing a compact, unified center to better serve the people of Lane County.”
  • “The plan of Architects Collaborative for a county-city governmental and cultural center is a direction, not a design. It’s a guide for the future.”

Sixty-four years later, the current Town Square plan follows in those footsteps, requiring only one addition.

Our goal all along has been to animate the Park Blocks throughout the week and throughout the year. To that end, the center must not become too unified or too compact. A permanent farmers market will add seasonal changes. We need people outside to enjoy it.

Current thinking has city employees bunched along the area’s northern edge — in a new building on 7th Avenue and later in Lane County’s public service building. The city will need more space than that, and a perfect building may soon become available.

Wells Fargo plans drastic downsizing for 2019. Might they sell their downtown branch building at 99 E. Broadway? The city’s engineering department is currently leasing the fourth floor.

Divide the city’s offices between the southern and northern edges of the Park Blocks. That way we can be sure there will be people walking around and through the rebuilt Park Blocks throughout the week.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com.

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Suffrage Lessons

October 11th, 2018 by dk
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I hadn’t intended my recent East Coast trip as a tour of the history of women’s suffrage. It just turned out that way. The heritage of women’s rights shed light on current events.

It started in Rochester, NY. Historians say it started two weeks earlier up the road in Seneca Falls, but look closer. Something radically original happened at the Unitarian Church on Fitzhugh Street. The Rochester Woman’s Rights Convention of 1848 was the first in which the presiding officer was a woman.

The earlier Seneca Falls meeting was presided over by a man. In the parlance of the day, any meeting that allowed men and women to participate equally was termed “promiscuous” — thereby requiring a firm (male) hand at the helm.

Social movements are propelled by courage of conviction. It was in Rochester, 170 years ago, where women took control of their own movement for equal rights. They wanted the vote, but finding their voice came first.

I attended a reenactment of that meeting. Painstakingly thorough minutes had been taken and preserved. C-Span couldn’t have captured it better.

Susan B. Anthony could not attend, but her sister and her mother did. Frederick Douglass spoke in support of equal rights for all Americans, without regard for race or gender. Others questioned whether confronting sexism and racism at the same time would doom the movement. If the war was to be divided into two battles, which battle should be fought first?

The minutes faithfully preserved the unflattering views of some of the age’s most stalwart defenders of human liberties. Even when our best do their best, the ideal is seldom reached. Moral clarity benefits from hindsight. History reveals what few can discern. Humility should be longevity’s lesson to each of us.

Barely a week later, I passed women with signs and megaphones, gathered on a lawn between the U.S. Capitol and the Senate office buildings in Washington, DC. These protests were just steps away from the Sewall-Belmont House, where suffragists Alva Belmont and Alice Paul planned their battles a century ago. Susan B. Anthony’s desk is on display there. It was still being used daily, less than a decade ago

Our National Park Service guide was most impressed by the unwavering courage of Alice Paul. She led the first-ever picket line in front of the White House. She was arrested for sedition, but she continued her protest from behind bars. She refused to eat, forcing her captors to feed her through a tube inserted in her nose. When they released her, she was unbowed — back on the street, protesting within hours.

As our guide recounted these stories, muffled megaphones could be heard outside. Women were protesting the diminishment of their voices during the Kavanaugh hearings. How will history judge these events? Humility again should be the order of the day.

Before “suffrage” meant vote, it meant voice. Its earliest use in modern English can be found in the Book of Common Prayer, referring to the intercessory prayers of the people. For the courage of conviction and the quickening wisdom of hindsight, we pray to our gods.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com.

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Winning is More Complex Than We Knew

October 5th, 2018 by dk
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And so, it turns out winning is more complicated than we knew. Vince Lombardi famously proclaimed, “Winning isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” What we’re learning now is that it’s a complex thing — if it’s a thing at all.

We’re discovering the concept’s latent complexity as we contemplate whether computers can teach other computers to win at chess or Go or any other strategy game. Programmers can input the rules of the game. That’s the easy part. What appears to be far more sophisticated is the concept of — and respect for — a game.

Without that appreciation, computers may become “free-range opponents,” seizing advantage anywhere they can. If the board pieces cannot be moved when it’s not your turn, what if the board is incinerated and the remnant ashes blow around? Where is it in the rules that the numbering system can’t be changed from Base-10 to Base-8? If there’s no time limit between moves, what if one non-human contestant waits until the sun dies out?

Prevailing at all costs is something less than winning. We call this lesser version “cheating” or “poor sportsmanship.” We can’t precisely define it, but everyone knows it when they see it.

Humans love sport for its clarity. It divides the victors from the vanquished, but it also joins them in their respect for and the history of the game. Ashton Eaton saw his world record in the decathlon broken this month and he cheered for the sport and the competitors yet to come. We cannot program such nobility into computers.

These fears have filled science fiction dystopia for decades, but now we’re about to set foot into driverless cars, trusting our lives to computer code. The truth is this is already happening — most airliners are piloted by computers most of the time.

The more frightening scenario may be the one we’re living right now. Amoral computers seem to be teaching humans how to prevail at any cost, by bending rules without breaking them.

Paul Manafort was recently sentenced to house arrest with a provision that he not send or receive emails. So he wrote emails but did not send them. Instead, he saved them in a computer folder that was shared over the Internet with others. They could then read his and deposit their own “unsent” emails.

When the judge learned of this and other tactics, she sent Manafort to jail. When his lawyer pleaded with the judge to articulate better the rules for home detention, she declined. The judge revoked Manafort’s bail because his actions constituted, in her words, “a danger to the court’s integrity” — not the rules of the game, but the gamesmanship of the rules.

Our legislative leaders in Washington are choosing prevailing over winning, and the game is suffering. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was trained as a boxer but became a street fighter in his last years leading the Senate. He altered the Senate’s filibuster rule by reinterpreting the Senate’s definition of a “day.”

Republicans have been only too happy to follow Reid’s lead, further curtailing the Senate’s traditions. As long as prevailing trumps winning, things will keep getting worse in every way.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com.

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Don’t Let Scooters Ruin Our Riverfront Paths

October 5th, 2018 by dk
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Our riverfront paths are a unique treasure. No other city in America has as wide a swath of natural beauty cutting through its midsection. Rain or shine, these paths are always busy and the mood is always bright.

First-time users sometimes need this hint. “On your left!” is a declarative statement, not an alarm or an invitation. It is a courtesy conveyed, requiring nothing of you. Don’t freeze and turn. It could cause an accident. Stay calm and carry on.

Our riverfront trails attract all comers. That makes them special. Bicycles, skateboards, baby strollers, wheelchairs and dogs — even horses — are welcome. Joggers, runners, and walkers pass at different speeds, cooperating to avoid collisions. Communication is key.

Twice in the past month, I’ve seen a new addition to this rich mosaic of transportation modes.

Early one morning on the Middle Fork Path near Dorris Ranch in Springfield, a young man zipped past me at what seemed an impossible speed for a skateboard on level land. After eliminating my first theory that he had arrived here from the future, I determined that his skateboard was powered by an electric motor and controlled by a remote he held in his hand.

We can only assume that he chose the early morning hour because the paths are less crowded. There was no chance to ask him, because he was traveling so fast. He was wearing a helmet, but any spill at that speed could have been messy.

Last week, I had my second encounter. On the Ruth Bascom Riverfront Trail near Valley River Center in Eugene, two helmeted teenagers were trying out their electric scooters. These scooters have a bit more control than a skateboard, but their velocity was roughly similar.

Our paths prohibit motorized vehicles, but that distinction is beginning to blur. Modern bicycles and wheelchairs often come equipped with electric motor assistance. Scooters and skateboards are following (quickly) behind. Will they be allowed or forbidden? We may need new signage to clarify the policy, because that mix of transportation modes is going to change quickly — and very soon.

Many cities are struggling to stay ahead of electric scooter rental companies. California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill last Wednesday that makes it legal for adults to ride electric scooters without a helmet. On that same day, a few states away, Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that a 24-year-old’s death was caused by blunt force injuries to his head. The e-scooter he had been riding had been found several hundred yards away, broken in half.

Eugene and Springfield should learn from other cities and states. We still have time to avoid confusion — and potential danger — that is sure to come. Nobody will be happy if residents and visitors begin to see our riverfront paths as unsafe or unfriendly.

If we’re going to allow motorized travel on the paths, which ones? As speeds increase, we may need a helmet requirement, speed limits, or passing lanes. Courtesy will remain the best solution, but new users will need new training. I hope our city officials don’t freeze and turn when they hear something approaching quickly from behind them.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com.

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EWEB Riverfront Park Plan Answers What, But Not Why

October 5th, 2018 by dk
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The Portland-based landscape architecture firm Walker Macy has all the skill and experience necessary to design a wonderful riverfront park for Eugene, but they haven’t been given that opportunity. Only if they exceed the scope of work delineated by the city of Eugene will they ensure the project’s success.

Everyone should agree that the planning work for the park is not complete. Given the prominence and proximity of the project, the firm may agree to continue their work for no additional fees. Eugene is in their neighborhood, after all, and the EWEB riverfront park will not be the last large project of its kind contemplated in our area.

Walker Macy was paid approximately $650,000 for their work so far. The firm developed three different assemblages of park features and presented them for the public’s consideration. Would the public prefer winding paths, an urban amphitheater, or river terraces?

In what should have surprised no one, the conceptual design announced this week includes features from all three alternatives. It’s one thing to produce a laundry list. It’s another thing to do the laundry. Most would agree it’s best to just get it done, all of it — a list is never anything more than a delay.

Will everything that the public wants fit onto the four-acre parcel that has been set aside? The answer is no. Will anyone take responsibility for the mess that may result from a something-for-everyone cacophony? Unfortunately, the answer is again probably “no.”

Those who have not been trained in the discipline confuse design with decoration. Decoration is fundamentally additive. What can be added to make something look and seem better? Lipstick may momentarily distract us, but it won’t change the animal’s swinish essence.

Design, on the other hand, reaches beauty not by exertion but discernment. Beauty is not created; it is uncovered. Architect Louis Kahn put it this way: “Design is not making beauty, beauty emerges from selection, affinities, integration, love.” Michelangelo employed subtractive carving to form his sculptures, removing everything that was not essential, allowing his subject’s universal essence to emerge.

We know plenty about what may constitute’s these acres’ essence, what could make it a place. So far, we have only another assemblage, another list of laundry — some of it less than clean. Eugene Skinner ran his ferry from here. The village’s first African Americans lived in the vicinity. We generated our power here. It sits between downtown and the university. It also sits atop some of our less enlightened practices for habitats beside our own. The river’s majesty may have been bent here, but never bowed.

Much more can be said, and some of it must be said. The land will speak if the people do not. The landscape architects will not be our leaders, but they can point us toward a direction we all will recognize as forward. It may be too late to ask Walker Macy to do that work, but it’s not too late for them to offer.

Even if Walker Macy steps up, more local leadership must emerge if the final design has any hope of enduring beyond our memory. Isn’t that the point? The mayor or city administrators may have to gather some local expertise to bring the project over the finish line.

Walker Macy was contracted to ask the wrong question. What will we love in our newest downtown park? That question shouldn’t be asked — much less answered — before the community wrestles with a more fundamental question: Why?

Why should Eugene have a park in this spot? How will this place offer more affinities, deeper integration, and a more enduring love? What selections must be made to coax its beauty to emerge?

Answering these fundamental questions will redound to the nourishment of future generations. Skipping those questions because they are too hard or too vague will risk our grandchildren’s harsh apathy. If the place we sculpt there does not tell a cogent story, others won’t remember it. Or us.

We must do the work now so that this park can outlast us. We will not have another chance to get this right.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com.

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You Can’t Tell the President to Buzz Off

October 5th, 2018 by dk
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Richard Nixon’s imperial fantasy came true on Wednesday. According to author Jerry Mander, Nixon asked his staff in the 1960s if the government could require television manufacturers to install a switch to enable the president to turn them on automatically in the case of a national emergency. His staff either dismissed the idea or ignored it as unserious. One person should not be given that much power in America.

That was then. On Wednesday afternoon beginning at 2:28, every American with a major carrier cell phone received a Presidential Alert. It was a more direct intrusion than even Nixon fantasized about. If your cell phone was turned on, you probably received the alert.

It arrived with the header Presidential Alert: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” Authorities simultaneously tested the nation’s venerable emergency broadcast alert system, which operates through radio and TV stations. (More about that in a moment.)

Presidential Alerts on your cell phone cannot be turned off. You cannot opt out. Anytime you want to be connected to family or friends, you are also giving that access to the White House. Stop what you’re doing — your president is calling.

President George W. Bush authorized the alerts in 2006. Congress mandated that the system be tested every three years, but no test alerts were ever sent. President Obama apparently agreed with Nixon’s staff that presidential power should not extend to every American’s pocket.

The president’s authority is only to be used in the case of a national emergency, but “national emergency” has been defined downward recently. President Trump couldn’t have renegotiated NAFTA without first claiming that Canada posed a threat to national security. If there were mounties amassing at our border, I missed it.

These cell phone alerts follow a governmental trend, except for two glaring differences.

The National Weather Service sends localized alerts when a severe weather system could endanger the lives of the unprepared. Severe thunderstorms, flooding, hurricanes and tsunamis may warrant such alerts. In a way, this is nothing new. We had tornado sirens in the Midwest to warn people to seek shelter. Those sirens offered no opt-out options.

More recently, law enforcement officials have gained the ability to broadcast Amber Alerts, when a child has been abducted and time is of the essence. Most of us are willing to be interrupted if there’s imminent danger nearby. Hawaii recently made headlines when an emergency alert was accidentally sent to residents that an incoming missile had been detected.

These examples are all localized to a target area, using the GPS function in the phone. They are also being sent by agencies that have safeguards built into the protocol for implementation. (Those protocols failed in Hawaii, but we can presume the person who accidentally hit the switch was disciplined.)

The Presidential Alert system may also have guardrails to keep the president from drunk dialing all U.S. citizens, but raise your hand if you believe those protections will prevent a president from using this — or any other — power inappropriately.

No other alert system currently in place hasn’t been localized. The idea of the president simultaneously speaking to virtually everyone in the nation is creepy, but localized messages could be even worse. If that is technically possible, we could be receiving a reminder to vote on Election Day, but only in states where the White House’s preferred political party might benefit.

Presidential Alerts suddenly make the President’s Twitter feed seem quaint.

America has endured for almost a quarter of a millennium because its systems shrewdly distributed power. Washington’s power tree is divided into three branches. States are explicitly given all powers not reserved for the central government. Individual liberties are guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

That was then. California and 20 other states, including Oregon, believe its citizens are best served by an Internet that does not favor anyone over anyone else. When California reinstated what had been national net neutrality rules inside its own borders, the federal government immediately sued, alleging that the FCC “has the exclusive power to regulate” the Internet.

Taken together, the federal government is asserting its right to access and control every electronic means we have of sharing information with one another. That should send a chill up your spine, before it sends a buzz to your pocket.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com.

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Unasked Questions for Judge Kavanaugh

October 3rd, 2018 by dk
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Republican Senators hired an outsider to ask questions last week of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. I wish the Democrats had followed suit, handing their final questions of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to somebody who did not gain access to the microphone by winning an election. It may have sounded something like this.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Judge Kavanaugh, I’d like to keep things very simple, if you don’t mind. I will keep my questions brief and straightforward, to make the most of our time. May I ask for the same courtesy from you?

In my understanding about events that occurred in 1982, Dr. Ford has made certain claims. She described her certainty as “100 percent.” You have sounded similarly certain. So, at least one of you is mistaken or being untruthful. Does that make sense to you — yes or no?

Truthfulness today is our concern. What happened in 1982 isn’t important, per se, unless current testimonies are relevant to future job performance. Do you agree, yes or no?

Why do you suppose Dr. Ford would create a story that included you and another person in the room? Wouldn’t that make the story potentially disprovable? And why would she approach her Congressperson before your candidacy was confirmed?

Forgive me for a moment. When this story first emerged, I imagine somebody like you immediately reaching out to Dr. Ford, through appropriate intermediaries. I picture a man of great prestige asking for an audience, devoted to listening to her story, doing whatever might be possible to make amends, and using his lofty position to call other men to do the same. But that’s not what you did, is it, Judge Kavanaugh?

Did you reach out to Dr. Ford any time over the past 35 years or during the last two weeks since her traumatization has been made public, yes or no?

You have testified that you did not listen to her testimony this morning. That concerns me. We’ve heard news reports of you arriving many mornings for the past two weeks at the White House and remaining there most of the day. Is that correct?

During that time, have you had — directly or through intermediaries — contact with President Trump?

How about with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or his staff?

We’ve recently read, by Bob Woodward’s account, President Trump’s advice. Allow me to quote a brief passage: “”You’ve got to deny, deny, deny… If you admit to anything … then you’re dead. … You’ve got to be aggressive. You’ve got to push back hard. You’ve got to deny anything that’s said about you. Never admit.” Do those words sound familiar to you?

You apologized to Senator Amy Klobuchar earlier today, after attacking her when she asked if you have ever blacked out from alcohol. You stated in your apology that this proceeding has made for a long day. I noticed you kept your composure better after being questioned — often more aggressively — by men. Should that concern us?

You told Fox News in an interview this week that you were a virgin through high school, but our concern here is not with sex. It’s about power, the abuse of power, even if it’s inadvertent. Do you recall how much you weighed in high school?

Your aggressive tone in today’s hearing does not seem inconsistent with the entitlement of a 17-year-old who might have enjoyed taking advantage of a smaller, younger woman — and then laughing about it — in the ways described by Dr. Ford. But let’s return again to the matter at hand. Do you believe your outrage today against a secret pro-Clinton cabal comports well with the temperament required of a Supreme Court justice?

Since you’ve stated so unequivocally your disdain for the Democrats on this committee, can you tell us today that you will recuse yourself from any cases that involve partisan gerrymandering, voter identification, or any other partisan concerns?

I’m sure you share my hope that the country will be better off when we complete our duty here. It’s not too late for you to reach out to Dr. Ford, and I encourage you to do so. Thank you, Mr. Kavanaugh.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com.

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